Alex Heimberger


Location: Kearney, NE
Started Chasing: 2011
Tornadoes: 20

Bio: Alex has loved extreme weather from a very early age. Grew up in Southwestern Michigan where weather can get extreme with ease. Lived through an EF1 tornado as a teenager. He’s CPR/First Aid certified & Certified Storm Spotter.

Favorite Storm Chasing Photos

Favorite Chase Video

Chaser Q&A

How did you realize your love for weather?

Realized I was interested in weather from an early age. From watching lightning at night with my mom. To seeing waterspouts over Lake Michigan. Living through an ef1 tornado at my mothers house in SW MI. Even got her to chase a few storms with me before getting my license. One time even my grandma haha. Of course the movie Twister helped peak interest and love of weather too. Lost interest somewhat in high school. Rather wanted to chase girls then storms. Then the boom of reality shows starring various storm chasers and scientist rehashed old memories and fondness of weather. Started venturing out around 2009 in state. Didn’t go full board until 2011 and haven’t looked back.

When did you decide you wanted to storm chase?

I chased early on not knowing anything when I was a kid. Started again in 2009. All of it was local. Had spotter training and that was about it. Really started chasing 2011. Learning hodos, soundings, models, and the ins & outs of storm structure. Pretty much from then on it’s become a passion.

How long have you been actively chasing (in years)?

5

Do you chase for a reason?

The reason I chase is to see mother nature at it’s best/worst. Feel most alive close/under an updraft.

Do you prefer to chase alone or with a group?

I prefer a small group of one or two more people. I would say a group of three is the safest/best. Driver, Navigator/photographer and videographer.

Have you ever considered going on a storm chase tour?

It’s always a possibility. Hard not to be in control of the chase though.

How do you feel about the current state of storm chasing?

I think it’s fine. You’ll always have your haters and naysayers. The road might be more congested then years prior but that’s not going to stop me from chasing. Just means more and more people have the same interests that I do. Glad for that. People need to know their atmospheres ins and outs.

Which era of chasing would you prefer to exist? Old-school or new-school?

New School

How far are you willing to travel for a good set up (in miles)?

800

What are your favorite areas to chase? Least favorite?

Would say West Kansas, Eastern Colorado. Least favorite would be anything by a substantial river or metropolis.

What is you favorite type of set up to chase? Least favorite?

Anyone that will give me a discreet supercell haha. High Plains Dryline I guess. Least would cold core. Just because not familiar with it.

What is your most memorable chase? Least memorable?

Probably April 14th 2012. No need to explain. Least memorable would be October 4th 2013. Missed Wayne, NE wedge & Iowa tornado. Was right there in the mix of things and the darn river was my demise. Few bad calls on my part too.

Have you ever feared for your life?

Not really. Always have a good fear of severe weather. Last year was a little worried at one point. Tornado started to come down on the same road we were on and thought it might anchor. Heading East towards us. This was the first tornado I saw since El Reno incident. Plus, month after my son was born. I was a little more on edge.

Are you afraid to make dangerous maneuvers while chasing? [I.E – core punching/hook slicing/living in the bears cage)

No, though anything can happen out there. A good fear or respect for severe weather will help with your decision making. Only thing I’m truly scared of out there is another vehicle hitting us and lightning. Both things you really can’t control or maneuver around.

Do you have any superstitions?

Not really. Jokingly thought a pair of open toed sandals were good luck to wear during a chase for a few years. If I remember, like to throw on The Doors Riders on The Storm or Thunderhorse by Metalocalypse while approaching a Supercell. Get in the mode ya know?!

Would you sacrifice a salaried job with full benefits, but only 2 weeks out of the year to chase for a paycheck to paycheck life with unlimited chasing?

Yes

Are you currently doing anything job related to the weather?

No

Have you ever been to ChaserCon?

No, would like to eventually.

Are you more likely to hang out with other chasers while waiting for initiation, or sit alone on a country road watching the sky?

Sit alone on a country road watching the sky. Like to do my own thing.

What is your favorite storm chase and why?

Willow, OK March 18th 2012. Low risk, drove forever, 1st tornadoes for my girlfriend & great structure. Had it to ourselves or at least no one by us where we watched the SUP for some time.

How did you learn what you know about forecasting and meteorology?

Skywarn/NWS Spotter Training, MetEd, Books, Videos and Scientific Presentations.

How you do you feel about the media in regards to the weather and chasing?

Don’t really care much.

Who are the most influential people to you out in the field?

Unfortunately some aren’t here anymore. Andy Gabrielson for his great videos/stream and reaching out to me in emails when I had questions. Tim Samaras for the science and his enthusiasm to chase. Reed Timmer for his endless drive. Tornado Titans a good group of guys and great at what they do too. Just to name a few.

What do you fear most about a storm?

Lightning

Do you have a job that supports storm chasing?

Yes

Do you have a family that supports storm chasing?

Yes all of them.

How long do you plan on chasing?

Until I can’t anymore.

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